Anti-terrorism programme 'failed to focus on the Islamist threat'

Anti-terrorism Prevent programme ‘failed to focus on the Islamist threat’ and diverted too much time and money to mental healthcare, report claims

  • Report also expected to raise serious concerns over use of Home Office funding
  • Will detail how moneywas channelled to extremist groups due to lack of scrutiny

The Prevent anti-extremism programme has diverted too much time and money away from the main Islamist threat, a major report is expected to say today.

The long-awaited review is understood to have concluded the provision of mental healthcare for less potent threats, such as misogynistic ‘incels’, meant less focus on the dangers posed by religious extremists.

The report by William Shawcross, former head of the Charity Commission, is also expected to raise serious concerns over the use of Home Office funding.

It will detail how cash from Prevent has been inadvertently channelled to extremist groups because of a lack of proper scrutiny, the Mail understands.

‘Well-intentioned public sector workers have used Prevent when they have no other way of getting mental health support to people,’ said a source.

The report by William Shawcross (pictured with his Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (RVO) medal), former head of the Charity Commission, is also expected to raise serious concerns over the use of Home Office funding

‘The review has found Prevent concerned itself with issues such as mental health and incels to the detriment of the main Islamist threat. There is a need to refocus on Prevent’s core mission – which is to stop people becoming terrorists.

‘William Shawcross feels Prevent has become a melting pot for everything. Different standards are in operation depending on the individual case, when there should be a single standard for all.’

The review is also reported to warn that Islamist extremists are being treated as victims rather than as a threat to the public. 

READ MORE: Islamic extremist groups who support the Taliban and host hate preachers have been funded by the taxpayer, government’s Prevent review finds 

It is expected to conclude there have been ‘potentially serious consequences’ after Prevent implemented a ‘medical mischaracterisation’ of radical Islamists, the Daily Telegraph reported.

In April last year then home secretary Priti Patel confirmed Prevent would be overhauled in the wake of the Shawcross review after it failed to identify a succession of extremists who went on to commit murders. 

The most recent case, that of Ali Harbi Ali, the murderer of MP Sir David Amess, was dismissed as a terrorist threat by experts just months before he bought a knife to hunt down MPs.

Set up in 2006, Prevent includes work to combat Islamism as well as other threats including far-Right extremists and ‘incels’ or ‘involuntary celibates’ who blame women for their inability to form relationships and who sometimes go on to commit violent attacks against women.

But there has long been concern too much of its resources have been diverted away from Islamism, despite it posing the greatest terror threat to Britain.

Leaks from an earlier draft of the Shawcross report, which emerged last spring, said Prevent had focused too much on far-Right extremists and accused the programme of operating a ‘double standard’.

It followed concern that some Prevent panels have involved Muslim groups that strongly oppose the entire programme.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman is expected to make a statement in the Commons about the findings today. 

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